July 29, 2015
Interviewing necessitates preparation on multiple fronts–from buying nice clothes to researching the company and rehearsing answers to interview questions. But regardless of how well-prepared you may be, there are some dimensions of the interview process that always give candidates pause; for example, it always feels a bit uncomfortable to discuss your other prospects. For that reason, this question is always complicated to field: With what other companies are you interviewing and at what stage are you in their interview process?
Of course you want to make it clear that you are a hot prospect who is in demand, but it is also important to be honest with your potential employers. Don’t say you are currently interviewing if you are not–it’s not the right way to start out your relationship with a potential employer. If you are interviewing, be upfront about timeline details the interview team needs to aid them in their decision-making, but also be strategic about what you want to share and what you would prefer to keep private.
Some consideration and practice will help you handle this question in a way that makes you feel comfortable and in control. Consider these approaches for each scenario in which you might find yourself:
You are interviewing
Sometimes it seems like interviews come in waves–like you won’t get a single call for two months, and then you will receive two in a week. So let’s say you had an interview earlier that week, and it went great and you are excited about it. Now in a subsequent interview that you are a bit less excited about, they pop the question: “Are you interviewing anywhere else?” How do you respond?
First of all, you want to be honest and upfront about the details of that process and how it impacts your subsequent interviews schedule-wise. Also, remember, you can’t trust yourself in an interview to make decisions about the big picture. Even if you think you are leaning more towards one job than the other, the interview is not the place to decide that, so be on guard against disclosing too much about how you feel about your final decision. It is fair to say “I interviewed earlier this week at xyz company, and I feel it went well.”
At this point it would be a good idea to restate your interest in the job and company where you are currently being interviewed and let the team know that you will inform them if there is a development with xyz company and then move the conversation forward. You indicate that you will relay any developments–enough said. If they should ask more about the xyz company or position, it is fair to move the focus back to the job you are interviewing for and your enthusiasm around that opportunity. You are the one who gets to compare these two offers, not them.
They may ask you what factors would be most attractive to you as counter offers–such as salary, paid time off, etc., and that is fair game. Think carefully about what matters most to you, so that if this comes up, you know what elements of a compensation package are most important to you, and you can respond strategically.
You are not currently interviewing
This is nothing to be ashamed of; you’ve secured an interview, and you have to give yourself credit for that. Your resume rose to the top of scores of others. So feel confident; you are already turning heads with your credentials.
You do not have to inform them of interviews that you had but that didn’t pan out. That is your private information, and your don’t have any obligation to mention it. You do have to be honest, but you don’t have to disclose all the details of your job search. Prepare an answer to the question that is honest, classy and strategic.
Here are some ideas:
- “I am just beginning my search, and I am thrilled to say that this is my first interview since I started looking for increased responsibility in my field.”
- “I am very pleased to have the chance to interview for this position, and although I am actively looking for opportunities, this is the only position for which I am currently interviewing.”
Stick to your Boundaries
You have power in this conversation, and while those interviewing you have the chance to ask you a lot of questions, you have the authority to set your boundaries. The details of your job search are your private business. Be honest. Be prepared. Be confident and stick to your boundaries.
Check out how to answer other common job interview questions:
- What Motivates You?
- What Major Challenges and Problems Have You Faced?
- How Have You Dealt With a Difficult Customer?
- Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
- Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
- Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
- What Are Your Salary Requirements?
- What’s Your Greatest Career Accomplishment?